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Why Do You Want To Be a Pastor?

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On Nov. 4, 1979, CBS correspondent Roger Mudd asked Senator Ted Kennedy this question during a prime-time interview: “Why do you want to be president?” Historians and political pundits who have reflected upon the Kennedy presidential campaign attribute Kennedy’s hesitant and fumbling response to this simple question as the main reason why he was not elected to become president of the United States.

If someone were to ask a similar question—“Why do you want to be a pastor?”—some of us might struggle to find an authentic and convincing answer to that question. Has the 2020 pandemic experience affected you in such a way that in this moment you might be hesitant and fumbling in how you would respond if asked this question?

We’d like to encourage you to take a few minutes with writing instrument and tablet in hand and jot down the first thoughts that come to your mind in response to the question, “Why do you want to be a pastor?” Pause and reflect upon the thoughts you’ve jotted down—what story do they tell?

As those who work to support the wellbeing of pastors and other ministry staff, we know the answer to this question will help reveal if you are in a positive state of thriving and flourishing as a vocational ministry leader. If you had to classify your current state of pastoral wellbeing, would you consider yourself to be:

  • Running well, thriving and flourishing
  • Walking well, mostly thriving and flourishing
  • Walking winded, mostly not thriving or flourishing
  • Stumbling wounded, not thriving or flourishing at all

Research indicates that approximately 25% of our nation’s pastors fall almost equally into one of these four categories. Where are you on this spectrum?

Pastors who are running well, operate securely from their new nature as opposed to their old carnal nature (flesh). Their motives, when carefully studied and assessed, are God-serving, versus self-serving. Flourishing pastors deeply understand that it is impossible to please God if they are not operating from a faith or trust-in-God posture. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that without faith (trust-in-God in all life domains) it is impossible to please God…AND that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.

Healthy pastors consciously submit and lean into the leading of the Holy Spirit. As part of their testimonies, many of these pastors will distinctly recall that moment in their leadership journey when they repositioned themselves from the captain’s chair and moved over to being second-in-command. It was at that moment when they discovered the meaning of Jesus’ statement that “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).